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May 18 2014

Why the GOP is Going Anti-Science

The Republican party has long had a problem with science, from its preference for creationism to its denial of the harms of pollution, but things have gotten far worse as the party has lurched to the right and become, for all practical purposes, the political wing of the oil and gas industry. Jill Lawrence explains why:

The 2016 Republican presidential primaries are already showing signs of turning into a competition to win the title of “candidate most dismissive of science.” As a political strategy, this is as depressing as it is understandable.

There’s little to gain and much to lose for the GOP White House hopeful who goes mainstream on science. Take global warming. Only 13 percent of Republicans in an AP-GfK poll in March said they were extremely or very confident that “the average temperature of the world is rising, mostly because of man-made heat-trapping greenhouse gases.” That compares with nearly 55 percent of Democrats and, according to an analysis last year of studies to date, 97 percent of climate scientists.

Not to make any assumptions about political expedience, but there is — perhaps coincidentally — an exceedingly short list of possible Republican contenders who accept the scientific consensus that global warming is real and driven largely by human activity. Based on statements from the last few years, the only names on it are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Another dozen or so run the gamut from serious skeptics to outright deniers.

And you can bet that if either Christie or Kasich runs for president in 2016, they’d flip their positions on the matter, just like Newt Gingrich and several others did in 2012. Several of the Republican candidates in the last election were on record as supporting cap and trade, which was originally the Republican alternative to direct regulation, a market-based way to reduce the emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases. All of them denied that there was any need for any such policy as candidates in 2012.

That’s the new orthodoxy in the Republican party — deny that there’s any environmental problems at all. That’s why we hear calls from conservatives, including several potential presidential candidates, to eliminate the EPA entirely, an idea that is sheer madness. It’s all about denying science and denying reality to serve their corporate masters.

101 comments

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  1. 1
    laurentweppe

    Give me One scientifically valid argument in favor of worldwide subservience to a tiny cartel of endogamic dynasties.

    You cannot?

    Then you know why the servants of hereditary wealth have no choice but to wage war on science.

  2. 2
    raven

    Meanwhile California has been in the worst 3 year drought in its history and the southwest has been in one for a decade. Water is scarce and already there are fights over it.

    Right now there are fires everywhere in California and this has been happening since January.

    The main fire season is late summer-early fall. Just abut everyone expects the west to be torched this summer. It’s going to be bad.

  3. 3
    birgerjohansson

    How the hell is Jeb Bush going to react when Miami starts to go underwater? “This is not sea-level rise…it is just a perfectly normal dampness”.

  4. 4
    blf

    Isn’t Huntman also sane on this — and many other evidence-based — issues ?

    I realise that means he is probably unmentionable, that is, no longer a “possible Republican contender”.

    (I have no idea whether or not he would be a good candidate should the thugs decide to nominate a realistic candidate, only that, as I recall, he wasn’t(? isn’t?) obviously a batshite nutter…)

  5. 5
    colnago80

    I’m sure that the blog’s resident climate change denier will be along to inform us how prescient those Rethuglican candidates really are.

  6. 6
    Modusoperandi

    raven “Meanwhile California has been in the worst 3 year drought in its history and the southwest has been in one for a decade. Water is scarce and already there are fights over it.

    Right now there are fires everywhere in California and this has been happening since January.

    The main fire season is late summer-early fall. Just abut everyone expects the west to be torched this summer. It’s going to be bad.”
    Everybody knows that’s because of all the homogay mansex.

  7. 7
    raven

    How the hell is Jeb Bush going to react when Miami starts to go underwater? “This is not sea-level rise…it is just a perfectly normal dampness”.

    Jeb Bush or Marco “dingbat” Rubio won’t react at all. They will be long dead and forgotten.

    The nice thing about climate change from the GOP perspective, is how slow it is. You can lie about it and leave the problems to your kids and grandkids.

  8. 8
    Michael Heath

    Denialism of what science presents us with regarding climate change certainly has the GOP and libertarians flunking even remedial thinking. To the point their arguments are a convincing demonstration of both groups’ inability to govern. But non-denialists also fail if they don’t point out that such denialism, or warranted skepticism if that exists, is still not a justified reason to obstruct mitigation of the threat posed by scientists.

    Even if scientists weren’t confident on the threat posed but instead hedging their predictions with far more uncertainty, the only logical, sane, and economically prudent response is to optimally mitigate the threat. This merely requires introductory-level strategic thinking to figure this out. The media fails miserably when it doesn’t question policy leaders on how their personal denialism is justification for rejecting mitigation when that’s contra what scientists almost monolithically and confidently assert.

  9. 9
    raven

    Isn’t Huntman also sane on this — and many other evidence-based — issues ?

    Huntsman was the most reasonable of the GOP candidates. And came in dead last behind such intellectual powerhouses as Michele Bachmann and Rick Satanorum. That says it all.

  10. 10
    matty1

    @1 In fairness I’m not aware of any scientifically valid arguments in favour of any political or social arrangement. It’s the basic is-ought problem.

  11. 11
    colnago80

    Kasich is already in trouble with the teabaggers because he bypassed the Ohio state legislature to get the Medicaid extension called for in the ACA passed. Governor McAuliffe is considering trying the same approach in Virginia as the Rethuglicans in the House of Delegates are blocking the enabling legislation.

  12. 12
    Michael Heath

    blf writes:

    Isn’t Huntman also sane on this — and many other evidence-based — issues ?

    Jon Huntsman was given far too much credit for merely acknowledging what scientists understand. Perhaps because he was graded on a curve relative to other Republican candidates for office. One of the difficult factors that cause Republicans and libertarians to stumble on climate change is the following. The only credible policy prescriptions available to effectively mitigate the that require more government intervention, where they’re committed to avoiding the big government label. In spite of Republicans leveraging government power on defense and social issues.

    So while Huntsman conceded the obvious, he still failed to make an effort to lead a credible response to the threat.

    This again reveals a failure by the media. When someone like Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman are on this topic, the media should be drilling into their policy prescriptions and the perceived efficacy of such by credible experts. We’d then find that people like Huntsman are little better than a standard-issue denialist like John Boehner.

  13. 13
    Childermass

    birgerjohansson@3: “How the hell is Jeb Bush going to react when Miami starts to go underwater? “This is not sea-level rise…it is just a perfectly normal dampness”.”

    Jeb Bush will most likely be dead by the time Miami starts to go. If he happens to have a very long life, then he will be mostly forgotten (assuming he never moves in at the White House).

  14. 14
    Modusoperandi

    Look, both sides are equivalent. The Democrats have moved to accepting science, so it’s also their fault for being so political. Actually, the Democrats are worse, because Al Gore started all this conflict by making a movie, and it deliberately excluded the other side of the story (thereby creating out of thin air the narrative that the truth is with the facts, rather than in the sensible middle. The sensible middle, of course, being roughly whatever the Republican position is on this day), pushing millions of Americans away.
    I mean, sure, everybody can agree that Climate Change is happening, but the way they did it (by telling people that it’s happening) just drove people to take sides in an issue, ruining the bipartisan plan of doing nothing.
    With facts like these, is it any wonder the country is so divided on the issue?

  15. 15
    Doc Bill

    The irony is that oil and gas companies are total science from the well bore to the pump. I can guarantee you that NOBODY uses creation science or flood geology to explore for oil!

    Furthermore, oil and gas companies became “energy” companies during the 80′s when the price of oil was skyrocketing, and, at least, the large companies embarked on all kinds of alternative energy projects: wind, solar, biofuels. And research was done on alternative technologies like advanced composites, carbon fiber, biotechnology and so forth.

    I knew a few creationists during my years in Big Oil, but only in support groups like programming or HR and the one time I asked how creation science contributed to finding oil all I got was a vapid smile (you know the kind) and a “have a blessed day,” in other words, they hadn’t a clue and didn’t want to think about it.

    Except for the people who actually work in the hierarchy of an oil company, most conservatives I know are fairly clueless about how an oil company works or how gasoline is produced and they don’t give a rat’s ass, either. All they care about is a lower price per gallon, an infinite supply and no lines at the pumps.

    All that said, I don’t know the source of the hysteria. But it also mystified me the power and influence that Jenny McCarthy had opposing vaccinations. I do have friends who scoff at climate change but when I ask them why all they can muster is that it’s a “liberal plot” or some such nonsense. It’s a “liberal plot” to destroy America and when pushed as to why liberals would want to destroy America I’m told “because that’s what liberals do.” Something evil is deep rooted in the minds of these people but I haven’t figured it out. Any notions?

  16. 16
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Why the GOP is Going Anti-Science

    Going? They’ve been well and truly *gone* anti-science for many years now.

    Hell I remember when John McCain was running for President but couldn’t tell the different between a planetarium and an overhead projector – quite literally.

  17. 17
    D. C. Sessions

    Meanwhile California has been in the worst 3 year drought in its history and the southwest has been in one for a decade.

    Actually, two decades and counting.

    My policy workaround for the climate denialism problem is to go straight for the policy based on national competitiveness: the DoD says that the rising demand for fossil fuels in the face of diminishing supply represents the #1 threat to our national security (and this was under the Bush Administration, so we can skip the ODS.) Therefore, getting ahead of other countries in shifting our energy supplies away from them will be necessary for our economy and national security.

    Since people don’t have hardened ideological or partisan positions on that score (plus the flag-waving) they seem to accept the argument more readily.

  18. 18
    Doc Bill

    Here’s George Will on global warming. “Socialism by the back door” he calls it.

    Note that ALL of his opinions are anecdotal. He cites the New Yorker magazine, for example, or the “fact” that scientists were touting global cooling in the 70′s. No, the press was touting global cooling. The idea received very little support in the scientific community, but George Will would ONLY have learned about that level of consensus by reading the journal Science or interviewing actual climate scientists, neither of which, I suspect, he did nor does he do it now.

    http://youtu.be/UPV_cQKGe-0

    So, you’ve got scientifically unqualified pundits spouting opinion based on other opinion and anecdotes. Is there anyone in the media other than the Young Turks who’s willing to call these boobs out?

  19. 19
    John Pieret

    Doc:

    Opinion is easy, facts are hard.

    Damn, I wish it was the other way ’round.

  20. 20
    parasiteboy

    Raven@2 and D.C. Sessions@17

    One of the major misconceptions is that you can tie any one weather event (e.g. extreme wildfires this year in California or even a current severe drought) to climate change. The current drought in California is due to a decadal variation in weather patterns. California (and the US) will also be affected by El Nino/La Nina cycles.

    Currently there is a persistent high pressure system in the northern Pacific ocean that has kept the normal winter rains from reaching California. This coupled with dry air coming down from Canada has also stopped smaller storms from forming and reaching northern California.

    Just as Rubio said that hurricanes and tornados have always happened, droughts in California have happened even prior to global warming California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say

    What climate scientist will say is that the frequency of extreme weather events will increase and even if the number of tornados and hurricanes does not increase their average intensity will increase (more heat = more energy). The same may be true with the droughts and flooding in different parts of the US (and the world) but I have not read up on those lately. I do remember that drought and heavy rains will occur in places that they have not historically occurred due to climate change, but CA may not be the best example of that phenomenom.

  21. 21
    mauriletremblay

    Only 13 percent of Republicans in an AP-GfK poll in March said they were extremely or very confident that “the average temperature of the world is rising, mostly because of man-made heat-trapping greenhouse gases.” That compares with nearly 55 percent of Democrats and, according to an analysis last year of studies to date, 97 percent of climate scientists.

    I hate it when those on “my side” misrepresent things. To make the claim about 97 percent of climate scientists accurate, the word “mostly” needs to be replaced with “at least somewhat.” (Literal accuracy would require a couple more revisions as well, but I don’t want to get too nitpicky.)

  22. 22
    parasiteboy

    To continue from parasiteboy@20, sea level rise is a direct consequence of global warming (ice sheets melting adding water and warmer water takes up more space).
    What really annoys me about people like Rubio (who represents a state that may be the most affected by global warming) is that he is ok with mitigation strategies rather than making changes to curb global warming because he says it will wreck our economy. Where the fuck does he think the probable trillions of dollars in mitigation for Florida alone will come from? (rhetorical question, it will come from cuts in programs for poor people)
    I read recently that mitigation in Miami (4 feet above sea level) will be a problem because the city is on porous limestone, meaning you cannot just build a sea wall to keep the water out.

  23. 23
    democommie

    A few weeks back I was taken to task (albeit gently) by a guy who works for the nuclear industry’s “selfie” safety program. He goes from plant to plant and reports ONLY to the top layer of management on his findings re: nuclear plant operations adherence to OSHA, NRC and the likes’ regulations.

    He said that the Price Anderson act costs the taxpayers nothing. He said that there’s never been a nuclear accident that’s cost non-industry people a nickel. He said a lot of other things. I said, “Okay, so why do we have the nuclear industry lobbying congress EVERY chance they get to make sure that Price-Anderson is NEVER repealed?”. He had no answer and never will have. The simple fact is that for people in the power business, anything except profit is for others to worry about and when they fuck-up, they’ll try to walk away with their bags packed fulla benjamins. The energy bidneth and the GOP are symbiotic, neither one can live without the other.

  24. 24
    Modusoperandi

    parasiteboy “Currently there is a persistent high pressure system in the northern Pacific ocean that has kept the normal winter rains from reaching California. This coupled with dry air coming down from Canada has also stopped smaller storms from forming and reaching northern California.”
    Clearly there’s only one solution: Invade Canada.
     
    “I read recently that mitigation in Miami (4 feet above sea level) will be a problem because the city is on porous limestone, meaning you cannot just build a sea wall to keep the water out.”
    Look, a wall will be fine. Even John McCain agrees. The Jaeger program is a boondoggle, and a wall will be enough to protect our coasts from Kaiju attack.

  25. 25
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    The simple fact is that for people in the power business, anything except profit is for others to worry about and when they fuck-up, they’ll try to walk away with their bags packed fulla benjamins.

    Do you mean the current players in the power business? Are you against centralized power production in general? Are you for decentralized energy production?

  26. 26
    D. C. Sessions

    D.C. Sessions@17

    One of the major misconceptions is that you can tie any one weather event (e.g. extreme wildfires this year in California or even a current severe drought) to climate change.

    I think “two decades and counting” is a bit more than “this year.” However, there are indeed other possible explanations, especially given that 20+ years actually is long enough that temperature anomaly is a weak cause in the early 90s.

    Be that as it may, though, the drought has in fact been ongoing now for decades — which is what I was correcting.

  27. 27
    parasiteboy

    D.C. Sessions@26

    I meant the wildfires this year.
    The drought has been going on for a while, but it has not gone on continuously for 20+ years California Statewide Precipitation 1895-2013

    California has been in drought conditions for a long time, but drought conditions caused by increased population and irrigation is different than drought due to increased temperature and and lack of rainfall. I agree that CA has probably been under drought conditions for 20 years, but it has not been a 20 year drought.

  28. 28
    laurentweppe

    Therefore, getting ahead of other countries in shifting our energy supplies away from them will be necessary for our economy and national security.

    One thing that manages to equally please me and piss me off at the same time is seeing the European states’ leaders, after decades of procrastination when it comes to energy policies are finally beginning to get their heads out of the sand when it comes to energy because now Putin is pulling a Milosevic in Ukraine.

  29. 29
    parasiteboy

    mauriletremblay@21

    I hate it when those on “my side” misrepresent things. To make the claim about 97 percent of climate scientists accurate, the word “mostly” needs to be replaced with “at least somewhat.” (Literal accuracy would require a couple more revisions as well, but I don’t want to get too nitpicky.)

    I am not sure who “your side” is, but there are other papers than the Cook 2013 paper that shows a large consensus on AGW.

    Further more your blogger disagrees with the methodology of lumping 3 categories (1, 2 and 3) together when they support a large scientific consensus on AGW, but then lumps the anti-AGW categories together to say that

    Adding up his categories 5-7, the levels of rejecting of AGW, we find that more papers explicitly or implicitly rejected the claim that human action was responsible for half or more of warming than accepted it. According to Cook’s own data.

    Would anybody now like to claim that lumping levels 1, 2, and 3 together and only reporting the sum was not a deliberate attempt to mislead?

    I’m not sure how you can find a source credible when they are doing the same thing that they are criticizing.
    Your as wrong as an AGW denialist but for different reasons. There is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that humans are the cause Scientific opinion on climate change.

  30. 30
    caseloweraz

    I wonder if that “PatriotReview” guy knows how bad the audio is in his interview of George Will (link in #18.) I doubt it; he’s had weeks to fix it.

    George Will has long been on the wrong side of the climate change dispute. In his column Dark Green Doomsayers (2009) he claimed that Arctic sea ice extent was the same as in 1979. The actual data say otherwise, but to my knowledge Will has never apologized for this misstatement. In one interview soon after the column was published he sidestepped the question.

  31. 31
    Chris Rhetts

    Sometimes I think we make trying to understand things like this way too complicated. The ignorant man’s mistrust of the academic has been a recurrent theme in history ever since they invented torches and pitchforks.

  32. 32
    caseloweraz

    Doc Bill: So, you’ve got scientifically unqualified pundits spouting opinion based on other opinion and anecdotes. Is there anyone in the media other than the Young Turks who’s willing to call these boobs out?

    There is Paul Krugman, who has a blog and does opinion pieces for The New York Times. He mainly writes on economics (which got him his Nobel) but sometimes takes down climate-change denialists — as in this May 10 blog post.

    But you’re right that far too little of this happens in the major media. On the Internet, however, there is plenty of it. You probably know that already.

  33. 33
    D. C. Sessions

    You know, it’s remarkable that people represent the “97%” figure as applying to “climate scientists” at the same time as quoting the actual basis as “number of papers.”

  34. 34
    caseloweraz

    EnlightenmentLiberal: Are you against centralized power production in general? Are you for decentralized energy production?

    I do consider centralized energy production a bad thing. The main reason is that the huge power plants represent such massive investments that upgrading them is economically discouraged. Imagine that instead of a single 1GWe coal-fired plant, the Cerulean Energy Company built 100 small plants producing 10 MWe per plant. When regulations were tightened, Cerulean would face far less cost per plant for the equipment required. It would also have more flexibility in operations, more easily phasing out older units or converting them to natural gas.

    Decentralization is not an unalloyed benefit, or course. It takes more land and more construction materials to build many small plants than one big plant. More transportation is needed to get the coal to the boilers. But localized impacts (e.g. groundwater pollution) are not as great, and overall reliability is better because the plants cannot all fail at once.

    For additional thoughts on this matter, see this essay tied to a review of Jeff Goodell’s Big Coal.

    Of course there’s also the fact that if energy production is to shift to renewables, it will have to become decentralized because the energy sources themselves (wind, tides, sunlight, geothermal heat) are decentralized.

    Even the nuclear industry should benefit from building smaller, dispersed plants because the waste heat would be less concentrated. Closed-cycle cooling systems would be less challenging. It might even be possible to use air cooling.

  35. 35
    Ichthyic

    One of the major misconceptions is that you can tie any one weather event (e.g. extreme wildfires this year in California or even a current severe drought) to climate change. The current drought in California is due to a decadal variation in weather patterns. California (and the US) will also be affected by El Nino/La Nina cycles.

    I lived in CA for 45 years.

    the drought patterns you are seeing now are magnified well beyond the patterns you see with the Pacific Oscillation (El Nino, La Nina).

    there’s never been anything like them recorded in CA history before. NOT EVER.

    you watch too many media reports, and don’t read enough actual primary literature.

    stop that.

  36. 36
    Ichthyic

    If you want to read the history of moneyed interests and science denialism in the States, I would highly recommend Naomi Oreske’s book:

    The Merchants of Doubt.

    pretty much covers the history, especially post WWII.

  37. 37
    parasiteboy

    D.C.Sessions@33

    You know, it’s remarkable that people represent the “97%” figure as applying to “climate scientists” at the same time as quoting the actual basis as “number of papers.”

    Not sure if that was directed at my post @29, but you are correct in pointing out that some research (Cook 2013 Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature) is about the consensus in the scientific literature while other research (Doran 2009 Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change) is based on survey data of climatatologist, and other scientist.
    For the Doran 2006 paper, under the category “climatologist who are actively publishing on climate change”, 96.2% of them replied “risen” to the question “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?” and 97.4% responded “yes” to the question “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

  38. 38
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Of course there’s also the fact that if energy production is to shift to renewables, it will have to become decentralized because the energy sources themselves (wind, tides, sunlight, geothermal heat) are decentralized.

    That other guy, the asshat, democommie – he and I have had some discussions on this topic previously. I was curious as to his position to try and make some sense out of it.

    I was trying to get at this in particular. It pisses me off that the US “left” thinks that this plan is at all remotely plausible. So-called renewable, that this. It’s a fantasy pipedream that “decentralizing” so-called renewables will solve any problem or make so-called renewables any more workable.

    I was wondering specifically if the asshat is one of those rabid anti-corporation Green Peace people, and if he is one of those rabid people who think that we need to like… get closer with nature, and greatly decrease GDP and production, because that’s the only way to end global warming, overpopulation, etc. I hate those people. I hate them because they’re wrong, often willfully ignorant, and dangerous. I also hate it because it has this whole new-age holistic “nature woo” bullshit angle.

  39. 39
    parasiteboy

    Ichthyic@35
    So your retort is that you have lived in CA for 45 years, say that CA has never seen droughts like this and then tell me to read more primary literature without actually giving any primary literature sources to support your claim?
    The reason that I picked my source @20 was because it was an article about scientist who have studied CA’s climate history and precisely because it has a graph that is directly from the primary literature (although the graph is for a larger area, the western US, and not just CA), so scientist who have studied the past climate of CA would seem to disagree with your anecdotal evidence.

    the drought patterns you are seeing now are magnified well beyond the patterns you see with the Pacific Oscillation (El Nino, La Nina).

    I never said that it was all do to ESNO, only that it will be another large scale weather pattern that affect CA’s weather.
    It is my understanding that CA’s current drought is due to a negative PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) that has allowed a high ridge of pressure in the northern Pacific ocean to set up and persist, keeping annual rainfall in CA below normal.
    But since you are up on the current primary literature, I’m sure you let me know if I’m wrong, hopefully with citations this time.

  40. 40
    democommie

    @34:

    You’re talking to a guy who’s an industry shill and says ONLY nuclear power makes sense.

    for more of his bullshit you can go here:http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/04/21/abramoff-scotus-doesnt-understand-how-money-corrupts/#comments

    It looked for a while like he and Lancifurious were going to be soulmates (or at least get a room at Ted Haggard’s favorite NoTell but, last time I checked, they were having a spat.

    It cuts deeply that the lying fuckbag piece-of-shit has resorted to simply insulting me, calling me an “asshat”. I may never recover.

    Dear Fuckface @ 25&38:

    I think you pretty well shot your wad back on that thread that I pointed out to caseloweraz. My antipathy for the people who run fossil fuel and nuclear energy plants is not a secret and it’s not new. And when I say, “run”, I don’t mean the workin’ stiffs; I’m talking about the people who pay you to come in here and sow disinformation. The companies/ownership groups who depend upon the continuation of policies that benefit THEM above everyone else are, without a doubt, going to want those policies to remain operant.

    When I deal with a lying fuckbag like you, I really don’t want to waste a lot of my time debunking the same horseshit talking points that have been debunked repeatedly by a fuckton of commenters here and elsewhere.

    Go fuck yourself.

  41. 41
    caseloweraz

    Yeah, thanks Demo. I forgot that I had an interchange with him before.

  42. 42
    Kamaka

    @ 38 EnlightenmentLiberal

    Quit already with the adhominum bullshit and speak to the issues. Many are the days I disagree with Democommie, but he’s correct more often than not.

    The electric grid needs a steady baseload to function. But the North American grid can withstand at least a 20% input of less than reliable renewable energy sources without breaking. So where are we now? Somewhere around 8% percent at best.

    There are countries in Europe that are near 50% renewable electricity. So quit with the “fantasy pipedream” crappola. It can be done.

    Demo @ 23

    The simple fact is that for people in the power business, anything except profit is for others to worry about and when they fuck-up, they’ll try to walk away with their bags packed fulla benjamins.

    QFT

  43. 43
    John Pieret

    one of those rabid anti-corporation Green Peace people, and if he is one of those rabid people who think that we need to like… get closer with nature, and greatly decrease GDP and production, because that’s the only way to end global warming, overpopulation, etc.

    Well, let’s assume for a minute that trying to get “closer with nature” is wrong, increasing GDP by spewing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is good and … well … ignoring the problem is the best of all possible solutions.

    What exactly are we going to do with Bangladesh? Almost 160 million people live in a plain no more than 10 meters above present sea levels. 10 meters is about the sea level rise will be by the end of this century. Gee, might India and other surrounding countries have a bit of a problem absorbing 100+ million refugees? Ya think? Wars, famine, pestilence much?

    Heaven forfend that we think ahead and spend any capital to avert disaster!

  44. 44
    Kamaka

    Oh Hi Demo, caseloweraz

    I was slowly writing while you were posting.

  45. 45
    parasiteboy

    Parasiteboy@39
    ESNO should read ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation)…urrggghhh!!!

  46. 46
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Kamaka

    Quit already with the adhominum bullshit and speak to the issues.

    I tried with him before. Ad homs are fun. My beef with him is the refusal to admit a simple known fact: that nuclear is least dangerous power source option by far, even safer than wind and solar (by the metric of human deaths per watt-hour).

    I also did speak to the issues – you know, those things you are replying to, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about there.

    The electric grid needs a steady baseload to function. But the North American grid can withstand at least a 20% input of less than reliable renewable energy sources without breaking. So where are we now? Somewhere around 8% percent at best.

    Citations please.
    Are you taking your numbers straight from wikipedia?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_of_the_United_States#Electricity_generation
    The opening paragraph says 8%. That includes reliables like geothermal, landfill gas. When you look at wind and solar specifically, as shown in the table just below the “8%” number, you see that wind and solar are more like 2%.

    I’m not sure where to look offhand for a source about how much “unreliables” the US grid can handle. Is that 20% number nameplate capacity or time-summed actual generation? Got a source? Regardless, that’s not very promising. Also, it’s kind of a non-sequitur. I’m interesting in the 100% solution to provide energy security, raise people out of poverty, end normal airborn particulate pollution and CO2 pollution, and so on. Wind and solar are not it.

    There are countries in Europe that are near 50% renewable electricity. So quit with the “fantasy pipedream” crappola. It can be done.

    I’m too lazy to go country by country, but I sincerely doubt that any European country is anywhere close to 50% solar and wind. Germany IIRC is close to 8% wind and solar by actual generation, and they’re already starting to experience problems maintaining the grid. Industry is complaining, and their neighbors are complaining. The only reason they got this far on this insanity is that their neighbors are providing the reliable power to cover them. Fun fact – Germany will build more coal and gas production in the next 10 years or so than all of the wind and solar it will available and built at the end of 10 years, including the stuff built before now.

    I have nothing wrong with geothermal where practical and hydro where practical. However, all of the good hydro spots have been tapped, and geothermal is very niche because it depends on a certain geology and such.

    Let me make it clear. My position was and has been that solar and wind are the pipedreams with current tech. There is this myth among the left and the “greens” that solar and wind with current tech can sustain our current lifestyle. It cannot. Hey – I’ll revise my position on that if and when new tech is developed, but we shouldn’t be planning current strategy to solve global warming and energy security based on unguaranteed, nonspecified “advances” in solar and wind tech, and grid level storage tech.

  47. 47
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Well, let’s assume for a minute that trying to get “closer with nature” is wrong,

    I never said that. I never implied that. It’s neither wrong nor right.

    What I did say is that this kind of tree hugging hippie bullshit is distracting us from what we should be concerned about, such as your example of the people of Bangladesh. The right answer is the answer which helps out the people of Bangladesh, whether or not it makes us “closer to nature”.

    I favor the only solution of current tech which will a massive die-off from starvation, preserve our current standard of living, allow others to raise to our standard of living, and stop CO2 levels from rising further – nuclear.

  48. 48
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Crap, missing an “avoid” here:
    “I favor the only solution of current tech which will avoid a massive die-off from starvation, preserve our current standard of living, allow others to raise to our standard of living, and stop CO2 levels from rising further – nuclear.”

  49. 49
    dingojack

    Psst – Renewables make up 27% of German demand in 2014.
    Dingo

  50. 50
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @dingo
    And how does that contradict anything I said? I said wind and solar made up about 8% in Germany IIRC. You said “renewables” made up about 27%. I see nothing contradictory here. Please read what I wrote earlier.

  51. 51
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Did some more research. My 8% number must be a few years old, or I’m misremembering.

    https://www.destatis.de/EN/FactsFigures/EconomicSectors/Energy/Production/Tables/GrossElectricityProduction.html

    About 13% combined from wind and solar total grid production in Germany for 2013. I would cite 2014 numbers, but the numbers are not in yet. And I’m guessing that’s the highest in Germany or close to the highest.

    What’s the rest to make the actual 24% for 2013? Hydro and burning wood, apparently. It’s questionable whether burning that much wood is sustainable. It surely cannot grow that much more.

  52. 52
    laurentweppe

    Gee, might India and other surrounding countries have a bit of a problem absorbing 100+ million refugees? Ya think? Wars, famine, pestilence much?

    I’ve said in the past that when the heavy shit finally hit the fan, the climate deniers will be the first to advocate genocide as a way to curb humankind’s strain on the world’s resources. Expect them to cheer on any indian far-right politician advocating gunning down the refugees.

  53. 53
    dingojack

    I think it rather puts paid to your ‘oh noes. It couldn’t possible work’ argument. It has and does.
    Dingo

  54. 54
    dingojack

    Nope- biomass (that concept you’re grappling with) comes mostly from the byproducts of growing of crops*. Unless Germany suddenly stops growing food….
    Dingo
    ——–
    * and, to some extent, recycling

  55. 55
    democommie

    @ Douchenozzle Liberbaglican:

    “Let me make it clear. My position was and has been that solar and wind are the pipedreams with current tech. There is this myth among the left and the “greens” that solar and wind with current tech can sustain our current lifestyle. It cannot.”

    And you’re the one who wants citations? You do have one handy that says leading proponents of alternative energy production are on record as saying that for publication. Not the people who I run into when I go the local natural food store (they have killer ground chipotle–and that and some other herbs and spices are about all I can afford to buy there); not the tie-dyed folks at the local Earth Day events. No. Give me the names of people who have a LOT of their own money invested in alternative energy production programs and think that current alternative generation technologies are sufficient.

    “I tried with him before. Ad homs are fun. My beef with him is the refusal to admit a simple known fact: that nuclear is least dangerous power source option by far, even safer than wind and solar (by the metric of human deaths per watt-hour). ”

    Fukushima, fuckbag, Fukushima. Yeah, that could NEVER happen here, until it does at some lovely scenic spot like San Onofre, Diablo Canyon or any of a number of reactors that are sited on known active seismic faults. You keep bringing up your idiotic “nukes are safer” and unless you’ve found a better source, you’re still basing it on a single report by a group from, IIRC, Switzerland.

    “The safety features of a modern plant is enough. What else do you need besides being the safest option out there?”*

    The problem is that it’s NOT enough, obviously.

    You’re a fucking clown who thinks that the rest of the commenters here don’t know how to google, read and digest the facts. Its okay if you want to jerk yourself off, but don’t waste my time, dickwad.

    * source: YOU, here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/03/27/bp-refinery-leaks-oil-into-lake-michigan/#comment-311431)

  56. 56
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @dingo

    Nope- biomass (that concept you’re grappling with) comes mostly from the byproducts of growing of crops*. Unless Germany suddenly stops growing food….

    Mistype. Mistake.

    Even if it’s crops, the same argument applies. If you run the numbers on how much farmland Germany would need to use to create enough waste to do anything important, and there’s not enough farmland.

    @dingo

    I think it rather puts paid to your ‘oh noes. It couldn’t possible work’ argument. It has and does.

    I fail to see how. It doesn’t address my argument. My argument is that solar and wind are unreilable, and the only plausible current technologies we have to cover when it’s not sunny and not windy are fossil fuels and nuclear. To keep the grid going with solar and wind, you need enough reserve generation to cover when solar and wind produce roughly zero, which means you need to build as many coal, gas, and nuclear plants with or without solar and wind. Solar and wind effectively save only fuel costs, and the fuel costs of most of this plants are quite cheap compared to the capital cost of the plant itself.

    Even then, there’s a rough guideline that no grid could survive roughly 30% or more penetration of unreliables. As I said, we’re already seeing problems with the German grid at 12%.

    Finally, I also argue cost. The developing countries are going to go with the cheapest option. Currently, the cheapest option is coal. If we want to fix global warming, we need something cheaper (or radical international treaties). Nuclear has the possibility of competing with coal on price. Solar and wind do not.

    Of course, all of this might change if there was a practical battery technology (be it pumped hydro or whatever) which could plausibly scale. There is not as of now.

    @democommie

    The problem is that it’s NOT enough, obviously.

    Safety of current nuclear is not enough? When it’s killed less than any other power source (by watt-hour) going by the history of the last 50 years, Chernobyl included?

    When you also realize that nuclear one of the least polluting if not the least polluting by CO2 and by conventional pollution, and it’s one of the cheaper options, and it becomes a no-brainer.

  57. 57
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    mauriletremblay@21

    Bullshit! Any attempt to suggest that there is any significant degree of controversy over the premise that humans are warming the planet is absurd. Yes, there are a very few climate scientists who hold out. There are slightly more scientists in related disciplines (e.g. physics, etc.) that have a problem with the science. However, most of these guys are well past their sell-by dates and frankly don’t understand the science.

    There is not a single National science academy or professional organization of scientists that has dissented from the IPCC conclusions. Not one. The level of support for the consensus model of climate science is on the same level as that for evolution, and the scientific basis is just as strong.

  58. 58
    dingojack

    Nope – biomass makes up about 10%+*, more than nuclear, try again. In fact the German grid ran at 59% solar and wind without problems.
    Dingo
    ——–
    * and growing strongly

  59. 59
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Nope – biomass makes up about 10%+*, more than nuclear, try again.

    What are you talking about? You are making it sound like that contradicts anything I said? Why do you think that contradicts something I said?

    In fact the German grid ran at 59% solar and wind without problems.

    Again, you understand the difference between a peak lasting a minute, vs the daily average, vs the yearly average, yes? Sorry for being less than clear. I was talking about daily averages or longer, not some instantaneous peak that lasted only 1 minute of the day. (Or 10 minutes or whatever it was.) The facts are still that solar and wind only make up about 12% of the German grid, and only because other nations in the area cover for the unreliability of wind and solar, and a consequence is an occasional large frequency variation on the grid which is damaging industrial equipment even now.

  60. 60
    colnago80

    Re democommie @ #55

    The San Onofre nuclear power station is closed and is being readied for decommissioning.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Onofre_Nuclear_Generating_Station

    The problem with the Fukushima Nuclear facility was not the earthquake. It came through the earthquake just fine. It was the tsunami that did the damage because the builders had anticipated a maximum of a 15 foot surge and the actual surge was 30 feed which shorted out the diesel generators that are required to safely shut down the reactors. Had the builders designed for a 30 foot surge, the reactors would have been back in operation a long time ago. This was discussed a couple of years ago on astrophysicist Sean Carroll’s blog by another astrophysicist who is a co-blogger on his site.

  61. 61
    parasiteboy

    Ichthyic@35

    there’s never been anything like them recorded in CA history before. NOT EVER.

    you watch too many media reports, and don’t read enough actual primary literature.

    Here are three articles from the primary literature in regards to CA’s drought history. I will assume that since you are a connoisseur of primary literature you can find more yourself (google scholar is only a click away).

    Stine, S. (1994). Extreme and persistent drought in California and Patagonia during mediaeval time. Nature, 369(6481), 546-549.

    Cook, E. R., Seager, R., Heim, R. R., Vose, R. S., Herweijer, C., & Woodhouse, C. (2010). Megadroughts in North America: Placing IPCC projections of hydroclimatic change in a long‐term palaeoclimate context. Journal of Quaternary Science, 25(1), 48-61.

    Woodhouse, C. A., Meko, D. M., MacDonald, G. M., Stahle, D. W., & Cook, E. R. (2010). A 1,200-year perspective of 21st century drought in southwestern North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(50), 21283-21288.

    There is something that does make the current drought unique from previous, much longer droughts in CA and that is the increase in average annual temperatures that we see due to AGW.

    Also, before you go on lecturing someone (who has published in and served as a reviewer for peer-reviewed journals and taught an undergraduate class at a university on how to write research papers for peer-reviewed journals) about how they

    watch too many media reports, and don’t read enough actual primary literature

    maybe you should just…Stop that…Bad Ichthyic!!!

  62. 62
    dingojack

    In fact an entire day without trouble contrary to your claim that this would be problematic.
    10%+ biomass unimportant*, nuclear less than this** very important. got it. @@
    Dingo
    ——-
    * and increasing
    ** and decreasing

  63. 63
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @dingojack

    In fact an entire day without trouble contrary to your claim that this would be problematic.

    First, my ass. That never happened. Citations please.

    Second, my contentions are: the grid stability would be compromised, would never work in the night in winter for extended periods of time (on the order of months), won’t work at night in the summer for extended periods of time (on the order of months).

    10%+ biomass unimportant*, nuclear less than this** very important. got it.

    No, I don’t. That makes as much sense as saying France is about three quarters nuclear, which is much bigger than France’s biomass. I don’t understand what point you are trying to make.

  64. 64
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Ugg, that was incomplete. Again, the problems with wind and solar are:
    * too many renewables put strain on the grid operations and frequency control
    * lack of affordable scalable energy storage tech to cover windless summer nights and sunless winter months

    Further problems with you are:
    * conflating “renewables (including hydro, biomass)” with “unreliables (wind and solar)”

    So-called renewables will carry the day. Solar and wind cannot cut it as a major component because of the grid stability problems and lack of storage problem. Hydro cannot be significantly further expanded because all of the good spots are tapped. Dittos geothermal. You cannot scale biomass to the needed quantities because of limited land. What else do you have? None of this malarkey is going to work with current tech.

    Nuclear will work. Nuclear will do it cheaper, will do it safer, and will do it with less pollution, CO2 and otherwise.

  65. 65
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    … I really need to proof-read after making changes. “So-called renewables will not carry the day. “

  66. 66
    Kermit Sansoo

    EnlightenmentLiberal, a few points:
    1. Mechanical / kinetic storage of energy for 24 hours or more is trivial. One solar plant has old train cars which it pulls uphill by cables. Releasing the cars one by one generates electricity. Flywheels, water lifted up into towers, etc. This is not rocket science. It is easy, cheap, and reliable.
    2. There are promising techs on the way. I’ll believe them when I see them, but they seem reasonable and close – better batteries, liquid salts with convenient boiling temps, carbon-based solar panels, etc.
    3. Solar homes, electric cars and other devices and processes using electricity can usually also store it for extended lengths of time.
    4. Smart. Grids. The bigger and smarter, the better. They can shift power around as needed. A large grid covering the continental US can spread the power as needed.
    5. Solar has predictable low production periods. There are others, like wind which overlap solar”s productivity. Others, like geothermal, tidal, hydro, biogas, etc. which can be manipulated on short scales (e.g. hours) to raise or lower productivity.
    .

  67. 67
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    What Enlightenment Liberal fails to appreciate is that nukes are at best a temporary fix as well. Whoever figures out the problem of a robust grid powered by renewables is going to make a buttload of money.

    So the question is whether we want to have a 20th century economy or a 21st century economy.

  68. 68
    democommie

    “So-called renewables will carry the day. Solar and wind cannot cut it as a major component because of the grid stability problems and lack of storage problem. Hydro cannot be significantly further expanded because all of the good spots are tapped. Dittos geothermal. You cannot scale biomass to the needed quantities because of limited land. What else do you have? None of this malarkey is going to work with current tech.”

    You’re such a fucking tool, nukerboy. I see a fuckton of baseless assertions there and one more instance of your conflation of “current technologies for alternate methods of electrical power generation are not as mature as those for fossil fuel and nuclear power plants” with “IT WILL NEVER WORK!!”.

    That you’re a fucking idiot and a bad liar is noted.

    @60:

    TEPCO states that the damage was caused by the tsunami. There are a number of people who disagree with that assessment, including a former TEPCO engineer. He says that the coolant flow had dropped to zero, prior to the tsunami hitting Fukushima.:

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/11/17/commentary/japan-commentary/cracks-in-tepcos-311-narrative/#.U3qZdukU-M8

    This:

    •Trying to distance the U.S. agency from the Japanese crisis, an NRC manager told staff to hide from reporters the presence of Japanese engineers in the NRC’s operations center in Maryland.
    •If asked whether the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the California coast could withstand the same size tsunami that had hit Japan, spokespeople were told not to reveal that NRC scientists were still studying that question. As for whether Diablo could survive an earthquake of the same magnitude, “We’re not so sure about, but again we are not talking about that,” said one email.
    •When skeptical news articles appeared, the NRC dissuaded news organizations from using the NRC’s own data on earthquake risks at U.S. nuclear plants, including the Indian Point Energy Center near New York City.
    •And when asked to help reporters explain what would happen during the worst-case scenario — a nuclear meltdown — the agency declined to address the questions.

    is from this report: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/fukushima-anniversary/u-s-nuclear-agency-hid-concerns-hailed-safety-record-fukushima-n48561

    It could be that TEPCO’s telling the truth–it seems unlikely.

  69. 69
    Area Man

    The article doesn’t really explain why the GOP is anti-science. Greed certainly plays a role, but far more interesting is the contemporary right’s ideological rigidity and messianism. Basically, their self-image makes it impossible for them to admit when they’re wrong. Denial is psychologically preferable to questioning deeply held premises. (Everyone suffers from this tendency; Republicans have dialed it up to eleven.) Tribalism also plays a major role, since once a critical mass of Republicans settles on a particular belief, it becomes orthodoxy and heretics are punished. That’s what’s happened with global warming denial, and why it’s near impossible to find a Republican who accepts the science, because those who do get hounded for their apostasy.

    Another dozen or so run the gamut from serious skeptics to outright deniers.

    There should be no distinction made between “serious skeptics” and “outright deniers”. You either agree that GHG emissions will lead to warming and that the emissions should be reduced, or you’re inventing excuses for not doing so. Whether those excuses involve outright denial of warming or something less crazy isn’t very relevant; either way, the desired policy outcome is identical. (In practice of course, deniers/skeptics will simply use any argument that they think will stick, however absurd, with little regard for consistency.)

  70. 70
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Kermit Sansoo

    1. Mechanical / kinetic storage of energy for 24 hours or more is trivial. One solar plant has old train cars which it pulls uphill by cables. Releasing the cars one by one generates electricity. Flywheels, water lifted up into towers, etc. This is not rocket science. It is easy, cheap, and reliable.

    My ass. Do a modicum of research before pulling facts out of your ass.
    Example:
    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/
    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/08/nation-sized-battery/
    You have no idea. Energy storage is really, really hard.

    2. There are promising techs on the way. I’ll believe them when I see them, but they seem reasonable and close – better batteries, liquid salts with convenient boiling temps, carbon-based solar panels, etc.

    Just like fusion has always been 10 years away for 50 years now. I want to solve the problem now, and not stick our heads in the sand until we get a solution that you find aesthetically pleasing.

    3. Solar homes, electric cars and other devices and processes using electricity can usually also store it for extended lengths of time.

    Using car batteries in actual cars that are regularly operated as storage for the grid is beyond foolish. Introduces a common point of failure (a cultural event where all the cars are in use), which makes it a non-option. People don’t want their cars to be uncharged in the morning, which means it’s a non-option. The massive number of independent generators – the car batteries – will play utter havoc with frequency control on the grid. The cost of the additional equipment on top of the cars and charging will likely make it more expensive than just having large dedicated batteries. Scales matter for efficiency of conversion and cost. Not to mention that curent chemical batteries simply cannot scale to the needed amounts – see the above link “nation-sized-battery”.

    The other options are similarly as foolish.

    4. Smart. Grids. The bigger and smarter, the better. They can shift power around as needed. A large grid covering the continental US can spread the power as needed.

    First, the meaning of “smart grids” is overloaded.

    If you mean a simple long distance high voltage transmission grid: Nope. Check the wind numbers. Go ahead. Check the actual historical wind numbers. Wind has a common point of failure, even across the whole US country. It’ll happen frequently enough, on the order of per year IIRC.

    If you making consumer devices be able to respond to signals from the grid or internet to shut down when needed, remember that residential is only about 20% of grid usage IIRC. Many industrial processes cannot simply shut down in response to such signals. Aluminum smelting, glass manufacture, and other industry cannot shut down. Loss of power damages or destroys the equipment. Hell, even the frequency variation from the large number and unreliable nature of solar and wind is causing occasional frequency variations which is damaging industrial equipment in Germany right now.

    And even for the industry that could shut down, we are talking massive profit losses from letting equipment sit idle. That is going to be passed on consumers. This is not a trivial cost.

    5. Solar has predictable low production periods. There are others, like wind which overlap solar”s productivity. Others, like geothermal, tidal, hydro, biogas, etc. which can be manipulated on short scales (e.g. hours) to raise or lower productivity.

    Again, check the wind numbers for the US, or for Europe. This is simply not true, unless you’re willing to have week-long black-out periods at least.

    Keep in mind that for northern lattitudes in the winter, solar basically produces nothing. As long as we’re considering German solar, IIRC German solar produces 1% of nameplate capacity in the winter months, daily average. It’s that bad.

    Hydro and geothermal are good, but all the useful spots have been tapped. I’m all for using it when useful, but it cannot scale significantly more.

    IIRC, tidal is still like 10x too expensive to be practical at the moment.

    Also biofuel, aka burning wood and crop leftovers, is fast approaching its limit. Go ahead and see how much farmland you need for how much power. It’s pitiful. This will always be a minor player in the grid. Not to mention the negative impacts it may have on food prices.

    @a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    What Enlightenment Liberal fails to appreciate is that nukes are at best a temporary fix as well.

    How’s that? Wind and solar are temporary in the sense that eventually the sun will go red giant and the Earth’s surface will be effectively destroyed. Nuclear will last about that long.

    Granite is the most common constituent of the continential crust. It is literal rock. You find it everywhere. Granite has more usable energy content from its thorium and uranium than an equivalent volume of coal. Stuff like this isn’t new. Around 20% of the uranium used in the US in the 90s came from this kind of low-grade ore. We are talking about mining literal rock, and figuratively “burning” it in nuclear reactors. Alvin Weinberg called it “burning the rocks”. We’ll never run out of rock.

    Of course, that’s just the back-up position. In terms of low-grade ore, but much higher grade than granite, we have lots and lots remaining. Usually ore concentration availability is log distributed, so there’s much more lower grade ore than some common estimates. Remember that the cost of fuel is a small fraction of a conventional nuclear power plant, so even raising the cost of uranium ore by 10x has very little impact on the electricity price of consumers.

    Also sea water extraction is looking promising. I haven’t been following that as much as I should.

  71. 71
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    What Enlightenment Liberal fails to appreciate is that nukes are at best a temporary fix as well.

    I wanted to spend a little more time on this. Alvin Weinburn talked about “burning the rocks”. He was around during the initial nuclear research of the 1940s and 1950s. Here’s a paper from 1959 where he makes these points.
    http://energyfromthorium.com/energy-weinberg-1959/

    It is a fiction that we’re going to run out of uranium or thorium. (Of course, it will require breeder reactors to do.) This knowledge was “published” in 1959 at least. From what I can tell, Morrison showed this to Weinburg back in the Manhattan project in 1943. They knew back then that you could figuratively burn literal rock (granite) and come out energy positive. This is not a new concept. I do not understand how this fiction has been allowed to propagate so much into public discussion largely unchallenged.

  72. 72
    democommie

    “Hydro and geothermal are good, but all the useful spots have been tapped.”

    Jesus, you’re such a fucking moron. You make an assertion like the one above and expect to be taken seriously.

    “Again, check the wind numbers for the US, or for Europe. This is simply not true, unless you’re willing to have week-long black-out periods at least.”

    No. YOU check the numbers, shit-for-brains. When you have them and can furnish the link, by all means, let us know.

    “Granite is the most common constituent of the continential crust.”

    Really? And you know that from having studied geology for years or because somebody told you that you could just make the claim and people would accept it because you’re such a fucking genius?

    BTW, coming back into a thread two days after you walked off in a huff is pretty funny.

    You really need to find another hobby, darling.

  73. 73
    Nick Gotts

    I want to solve the problem now, and not stick our heads in the sand until we get a solution that you find aesthetically pleasing. – Enlightenment Liberal

    Well you won’t do that with nuclear. Nuclear power plants have huge upfront costs, and regularly come in massively over time and over budget. Look at Olkiluoto Unit 3, which was supposed to show that these were problems that had been overcome: 6 years behind schedule, and nearly 3 times over the projected cost. They are also slow to power up and power down – so while good for base load, they don’t deal well with variable demand; and have serious safety and proliferation problems – as Fukushima* and the Iranian nuclear programme make abundantly clear. Only the head-in-the-yellowcake nuclear fanbois think nuclear power can be more than a relatively modest part of a low-emission energy system over the vital next few decades. According to the World Nuclear Association – hardly a body that is likely to downplay the prospects for nuclear power – electricity generation is projected to nearly double by 2035, while nuclear capacity increases by around 60% (currently it supplies around 13% of global electricity, and of course considerably less of total energy). There is no silver bullet that will enable us to go on using energy as profligately as the rich countries do now, and as anything like the current form of capitalism requires: energy demand reduction and accompanying behavioural change are an inescapably central part of any realistic plan to avoid catastrophic climate change and ocean acidification.

    It is a fiction that we’re going to run out of uranium or thorium. (Of course, it will require breeder reactors to do.)

    Typical nuclear fanboi pie-in-the-sky. Neither thorium reactors, nor breeders of any kind, are out of the R&D stage, so we really have no idea whether an energy system based on them could work on a global scale.

    * We’ll never know how many deaths Fukushima caused, by forcing the Japanese government, at a time of utmost national crisis, to divert huge resources from dealing with the worst-hit areas,, and to route aid to those areas around the contaminated area. We do know that more than three years after the tsunami, one of the most technologically advanced states on the planet is still struggling to cope with the damaged plant – and the disaster showed, once again, that the nuclear industry will cut corners to raise profits, and lie systematically.

  74. 74
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    They are also slow to power up and power down – so while good for base load, they don’t deal well with variable demand;

    France would like a word with you. They’re running approx 80%, and seem rather fine. This is just another piece of “common knowledge” which is fiction. You can design nuclear plants to load follow. Of course that introduces additional wear and tear, but that’s true of most kinds of energy production. Moreover, it may well be cheaper to run a nuclear plant full out and dump excess electricity into an energy sink of some kind.

    and have serious safety [...] problems – as Fukushima* [...] make[s] abundantly clear.

    Last I checked, no one died from radiation poisoning from Fukushima, and the estimated number of deaths from radiation poisoning is .. what .. less than a hundred over the next 100 years? How many people died in the tsunami? How people die every day from actual pollution such as from airborne particulates from coal plants? How many people die every day from the solar and wind manufacturing and source industries?

    * We’ll never know how many deaths Fukushima caused, by forcing the Japanese government, at a time of utmost national crisis, to divert huge resources from dealing with the worst-hit areas,, and to route aid to those areas around the contaminated area. We do know that more than three years after the tsunami, one of the most technologically advanced states on the planet is still struggling to cope with the damaged plant – and the disaster showed, once again, that the nuclear industry will cut corners to raise profits, and lie systematically.

    Please. More people died from the evacuation than will die from radiation poisoning. Check your facts.

    (I’m not saying the evacuation was bad or uncalled for. I’m just putting it in perspective. Evacuation at the time was the right decision because they didn’t know how bad it was yet.)

    And this is with a 40 year old reactor. We make better ones nowadays. For the “worst case scenario!!!”, it seems rather fine to me. Better that than pumping particulates into the air whch we know kill thousands every day.

    and have serious [...] proliferation problems – as [...] the Iranian nuclear programme make[s] abundantly clear.

    Your only good point. We can have a serious conversation here if you want.

    Only the head-in-the-yellowcake nuclear fanbois think nuclear power can be more than a relatively modest part of a low-emission energy system over the vital next few decades. According to the World Nuclear Association – hardly a body that is likely to downplay the prospects for nuclear power – electricity generation is projected to nearly double by 2035, while nuclear capacity increases by around 60% (currently it supplies around 13% of global electricity, and of course considerably less of total energy).

    Generally in a public policy debate, a certain degree of fiat power is assumed. The debate is not over what will happen. Instead, the debate is over what we should prefer to happen. Of course, unlimited fiat power is generally not allowed, but some degree of assumed hypothetical fiat power is required for any public policy debate.

    I am not interested in projected production in “business as usual”. I am making an argument that “business as usual” is bad, and we should change our public policy.

    There is no silver bullet that will enable us to go on using energy as profligately as the rich countries do now, and as anything like the current form of capitalism requires: energy demand reduction and accompanying behavioural change are an inescapably central part of any realistic plan to avoid catastrophic climate change and ocean acidification.

    Thankfully false. Nuclear for electricity, and then ammonia, or dimethyl ether, or some other synthetic hydrocarbon from atmospheric CO2 seems eminently doable – which makes it carbon neutral.

    Typical nuclear fanboi pie-in-the-sky. Neither thorium reactors, nor breeders of any kind, are out of the R&D stage, so we really have no idea whether an energy system based on them could work on a global scale.

    Please. Saying we don’t have a working prototype now is a great catch 22. “Breeder reactors don’t work because we don’t have a working one now. We are not going to build a breeder reactor because they do not work.” Got anything but a fallacious argument?

    The fundamentals for many different designs have been demonstrated. All that remains are engineering challenges for many of the designs. We just have to build the damn things. Unlike fusion, solar, wind, and energy storage, where fundamental research breakthroughs remain.

    PS: As for money cost, that alone will take a lot of time. I’m saving that for when I feel more motivated. Regardless, it’s still within the neighborhood of cost competitive with coal, whereas solar and wind are no where close.

  75. 75
    democommie

    Another long winded and wholly opinion based load of bullshit @74. I’m beginning to think that the asshole who signs as enlightenment liberal might actually be eric houg or some other commenter.

  76. 76
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    For those who claim uramium supplies are limited. Have you all heard of CANDU reactors?

    By the math I just ran, you can go well past break-even by mining average granite, leeching out the uranium, and running that in a CANDU reactor. My math puts it at about 6.72 Joules out for every Joule in. Hopefully I didn’t make a mistake with my math.

    Of course, I’m probably missing something important, but here’s to show that it’s very plausible very very well established reactors, CANDUs, can run off uranium from literal rock, granite. As I said before, we’re never going run out of rock.

    I still don’t want to distract from my earlier point that breeders are a mostly demonstrated technology, or at least far far closer, than solar, wind, and grid-scale energy storage.

    Math:
    Starting numbers:
    * CANDUs can make 7 G W Day from one metric ton of uranium.
    * Granite is on average 4 ppm uranium.
    * Energy to recover 3-4 gram of uranium from 1 short ton of granite requires the useful energy of 30 lb of coal. Source: http://energyfromthorium.com/energy-weinberg-1959/
    * The useful energy of coal is 24 MJ per kg.

    (energy out) / (energy in)
    … = (energy from uranium in 1 metric ton of granite) / (energy to get that uranium from the 1 metric ton of granite)
    … = (60*60*24 sec / day)(J / watt sec)
    (1 metric ton granite)(4 uranium / 1 M granite)(7 G watt day / metric ton uranium)
    / (1 metric ton granite)(short ton / 0.907185 metric ton)(energy of 30 lb of coal / short ton of granite)(24 MJ useful energy / kg coal)(kg / 2.20462 lb)
    … = 6.72

  77. 77
    democommie

    Dear stupid fuck @75:

    You just keep throwing up unsubstantiated claims..

    You liked throwing around the Greenpeace link in a previous thread (even after it was obvious to everyone but you that you didn’t know wtf you were agreeing with). I don’t think you’re gonna like this one.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/documents-and-links/publications/candu6_report/

  78. 78
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    @76:

    Way, way, way off. I don’t know where you 7 GW-d comes from, but that’s 604.8 TJ. The energy content of a metric ton of uranium is ~ 208.8 TJ. (Remember only 7.2 kg of that is 235, and 8.8% of the energy released is in kinetic energy of antineutrinos, which does nobody any good.)

    I’m also allowing a conversion efficiency of 35% like a super-modern thermal plant, but 20% is more like it for nuclear—remember you can choose the materials for the burner of a gas- or coal-fired plant, but you’re stuck with uranium for nuclear, and its melting point is what it is.

    So you’re overestimating the energy available from natural uranium by a factor of at least 2.9, and in the real world more like 5.1. Thanks for playing.

  79. 79
    corwyn

    This.

  80. 80
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    You are right, partially. I confused thermal output with actual output electricity. My mistake.

    However, you seem to be making the mistake that CANDUs (PHWR) and conventional PWR only get power from the input U-235. This is not true. Some of that power comes from transmuting some of the input U-238 to Pu-239, and then fissioning that.

    Also, I found better numbers
    http://c21.phas.ubc.ca/article/nuclear-energy-basics
    180 MWh (thermal) / kg nat U

    Also, CANDUs have a thermal efficiency around 31% to 35%. Let’s use 31%.

    Using my earlier numbers, we get:
    (energy out) / (energy in)
    … = (energy from uranium in 1 metric ton of granite) / (energy to get the uranium from 1 metric ton of granite)
    … = (1 metric ton granite) (4 nat U / M granite) / ((1 metric ton granite) (energy of 30 lb of coal / short ton granite))
    … = (1 metric ton) (4 nat U / M) (1 / metric ton) (short ton / energy of 30 lb of coal)
    … = (1 metric ton) (4 nat U / M) (1 / metric ton) (short ton / energy of 30 lb of coal) (kg of coal / 24 MJ energy of coal) (180 MWh thermal output / kg nat U) (31 [elec output] / 100 thermal output) (2000 lb / short ton) (60 * 60 sec / h) (J / watt sec)
    … = 2.232

    It’s a proverbial point. I picked one of the worst “ores” imaginable, granite. There is a multitude of better “ore” available at amounts that will last forever. Again, running out of uranium would be like running out of rock. Rock is an unlimited resource in the same sense that sunlight is an unlimited resource.

    Again, per volume, granite has more useful energy content than the same volume of coal. A lot of what I’m saying seems counter-intuitive, but that’s because the human mind is bad at comprehending that granite at 4 ppm natural unenriched uranium has more extractable energy than the same volume of coal or oil. It’s true.

    PS:
    With a energy multiplier that low, around 2x, despite being technically energy positive (>1), it may not be practical to power our economy on CANDU on granite. However, as I noted, there is an effectively unlimited amount of higher grade ore, and next-gen breeder reactors can run just fine on that 4 ppm granite. Again, we can power our economy by figuratively burning literal rock.

  81. 81
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Err, I used the wrong link. Let me give the better source.
    http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1490_web.pdf
    pg 22

    Typical burnup of CANDU fuel is considered to be 8.6 GW·d/t U

    Which comes out to about 228 MWh (thermal) / kg natural uranium, which is slightly better than the number I used above. CANDU design have improved over time.

    From other sources I can find, that’s apparently the thermal output, so again multiply by 31-35% thermal efficiency.

  82. 82
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @democommie
    I’ll address you when you make an intelligent point.

    The dangers of nuclear power plants are so blown out of proportion that some people’s fears, like yours, have absolutely no resemblance to reality. The amount of people who have died from radiation poisoning from nuclear power plants is IIRC a few thousand at worst, Chernobyl included. Let me put that in perspective.

    It’s very likely that more people have died from choking on sliced bread than from radiation from nuclear power plants. That’s right, nuclear is literally safer than sliced bread – in the sense that a normal person is more likely to die from sliced bread than from radiation poisoning from a nuclear accident.

    It’s likely that more people died from the evacuation of Fukushima than will die from radiation poisoning from the accident. Look it up.

    I am not interesting in your fearmongering democommie. You can take your cherry picked links, your lying Green Peace, your utter refusal to recognize the simple facts of the deaths from radiation from accidents in nuclear power over the last 60 years, and shove it.

  83. 83
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    OK, I gave you 35% efficiency, but let’s go with 31. That makes ~185 TJ of energy from that 7.2 kg of 235 in each tonne of U. If it takes the energy in 30 lbs. of coal to extract the U in 1 short ton of granite, that’s 33 lb, or 15 kg/tonne. 15 x 24 MJ = 360 MJ to extract 4 g. 360/4 is 90 MJ/g. 90 MJ x 1000,000 = 90 TJ/tonne of U.

    Before you have the energy to do this magically being produced at 100% efficiency, but using the same 31%, that’s ~290 TJ of energy, to extract the U to produce 185 TJ. Your multiplier is ~.64.

    Not only did you not take thermal efficiency into account, you forgot you need to multiply twice because you’re using energy you produced to extract your fuel. It’s like light-water reactors today—it takes more energy to enrich the uranium than you can get from it. It’s a massive boondoggle, and this is a bigger one.

  84. 84
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    Sorry, I dropped a <b> tag—I wasn’t meaning to scream the last paragraph.

  85. 85
    democommie

    “@democommie
    I’ll address you when you make an intelligent point.”

    My heart is broken, really, it is. You cannot possibly imagine how very little your addressing me means to me.

    “It’s likely that more people died from the evacuation of Fukushima than will die from radiation poisoning from the accident. Look it up.”

    You keep bringing this up as if it somehow validates your indignorance, you stupid fuck.

    The ONLY reason that hey HAD to be evacuated was because the fucking plant came apart. A lot of them can NEVER, EVER go home you idiot. Most of them will DIE before their homes are safe enough to live in, again.

    “I am not interesting in your fearmongering democommie. You can take your cherry picked links, your lying Green Peace,”

    But, but, but you LOVED Greenpeace when you thought that their report supported your bullshit assertions about nuclear power being the safest, bestest, ever.

    Y’know I really think that you need to have a chat with your therapist about allowing your expectations to cloud your perception. Well, either that, or just GO FUCK YOURSELF.

    Dear The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge:

    I very much appreciate your sincere effort to school Endarkled Libertardlican but it is equivalent to giving pigs singing lessons.

  86. 86
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    Well, fuck. You have me there. Honest mistake.
    0.7812
    So, it would take more energy input than energy output.

    Thank you.

    It’s like light-water reactors today—it takes more energy to enrich the uranium than you can get from it. It’s a massive boondoggle, and this is a bigger one.

    This is the first I’ve ever heard of this. Do you have a source? I’ll try to google it.

  87. 87
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    But, but, but you LOVED Greenpeace when you thought that their report supported your bullshit assertions about nuclear power being the safest, bestest, ever.

    I didn’t love Green Peace. I used it as a citation which I thought you would find reliable. Then I found that you are unable to critically analyze documents, aka are unable to read. The posted numbers clearly showed that nuclear was comparatively safe to wind power by deaths per watt-hour. Instead, you focused on an unsubstantiated sentence in the piece, ignoring the numbers (graphs) which they posted.

  88. 88
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    Also, I still stand by my earlier observation that the amount of uranium “ore” available at 10 or 100 ppm is incredibly vast. We’re not going to run out any time soon.

    As for this new complaint that enriching uranium to the levels required for conventional light water reactors, surely this doesn’t apply to CANDUs then, which run on natural uranium? Thus, you should agree with me that CANDUs work, and that the available fuel we have for CANDUs is virtually unlimited, right?

  89. 89
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    OK, I’m not going to insist on the negative energy balance for uranium enrichment, because that was for gaseous-diffusion and I didn’t realize how much they’d already been replaced by centrifuge plants, so: “Never mind!” </Emily Litella>

  90. 90
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    About gaseous diffusion:
    Ah, I see. Honestly thanks for the history and tech lesson. I didn’t know that. And thanks for the details so I can look it up!

  91. 91
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    I think that’s been the Achilles heel of the nuclear industry from the get-go: how much it was tied to the enormous American gaseous-diffusion plants that were built to produce weapons-grade uranium (and didn’t deliver any until at least a year after the war was over.

    This was seen as a way to tie nuclear power to American interests, but that necessitated selling the world unreliable light-water reactors that needed enriched uranium. We thought nothing of burning enough coal in TVA power plants to produce the uranium to sell our allies to tie them to our apron-strings. I don’t think this model is economically sustainable.

    Reactors that use natural uranium (or thorium) are much more likely to be economical, but I don’t think they’re anywhere near there yet. That CANDU reactor in the Wiki article needed over $5 billion worth of heavy water alone, and that doesn’t include the cost of the actual plant. The Fort St. Vrain graphite-moderated reactor was terribly unreliable and was eventually closed down. (It had the same flaw as the Chernobyl plants—graphite doesn’t turn into steam and quit working as a moderator when the reactor overheats.)

    I really don’t understand how many “deaths/W-h” wind power is supposed to inflict, and I think you’re considerably too pessimistic about the development of solar power, but what’s needed is energy storage. This is true regardless of where the power comes from—even if you were going 100% nuclear, wouldn’t it be better to build plants to produce the average power needed rather than peak power?

    Once you have energy storage to match supply with demand, though, you don’t need nuclear any more. There are any number of sources of energy that can be used. What we need to eliminate at all costs is coal. In addition to soot and fly-ash and acid rain and particulates, you’d need a Chernobyl-style meltdown somewhere in the world every few days to equal the radionuclides that coal pumps into the atmosphere per KW-hr—and long-lived alpha-emitters, at that.

  92. 92
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    I’m agreeing on a lot of what you say.

    I really don’t understand how many “deaths/W-h” wind power is supposed to inflict,

    Mining accidents. Installation accidents. Repair accidents. The entire supply chain and operations.

    and I think you’re considerably too pessimistic about the development of solar power, but what’s needed is energy storage. This is true regardless of where the power comes from—even if you were going 100% nuclear, wouldn’t it be better to build plants to produce the average power needed rather than peak power?

    I am pessimistic about energy storage, not so much solar. Solar might work in latitudes nearer the equator. Solar is still doomed in Germany where solar produces daily average 1% of nameplate capacity in the winter months, and any similar latitude.

    And uhh, cheap storage would be nice for nuclear, but it’s not required. Cheap storage is required for large amounts of solar and wind.

    As i mentioned above, if I get some time, I’ll start squabbling over nuclear plant costs. I don’t think they’re as bad as you make them out to be. Nuclear is economically practical, and it’s the only shot we have at maintaining our western standard of living, giving that to everyone else, and fixing global warming (along with amazingly less conventional pollution, comparable to wind and solar, and also less deaths, also comparable to wind and solar). Also gives energy security and independence too. No more foreign wars for oil!

    Once you have energy storage to match supply with demand, though, you don’t need nuclear any more.

    Maybe. It becomes a lot more plausible. Cheap storage changes everything.

    What we need to eliminate at all costs is coal. In addition to soot and fly-ash and acid rain and particulates, you’d need a Chernobyl-style meltdown somewhere in the world every few days to equal the radionuclides that coal pumps into the atmosphere per KW-hr—and long-lived alpha-emitters, at that.

    Thank you for helping put things in perspective.

  93. 93
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Correction:
    >Solar might work with cheap storage in latitudes nearer the equator.

  94. 94
    democommie

    “I didn’t love Green Peace. I used it as a citation which I thought you would find reliable. Then I found that you are unable to critically analyze documents, aka are unable to read.”

    You, dickface, are the one with the reading comprehension problem. You stopped paying attention before you got to the second part of their report. Like most shills you have this notion that if you scream loud enough people will hear the TRUTH in your rants. You’re wrong.

    It’s obvious that you like to use the Fukushima evacuation as an example of wrong-headed thinking on the subject of nuclear power safety. Do both of us a favor, go live in the exclusion zone, asshole.

  95. 95
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @democommie

    It’s obvious that you like to use the Fukushima evacuation as an example of wrong-headed thinking on the subject of nuclear power safety. Do both of us a favor, go live in the exclusion zone, asshole.

    I’ve explicitly and clearly said numerous times that the evacuation was a sensible precaution because they didn’t know the extent of the problem. (I’m merely putting the severity of the accident into perspective by noting how few people actually died and will die from the released radiation.) Stop distorting my position.

    Can you do anything but lie?

  96. 96
    democommie

    “I’ve explicitly and clearly said numerous times that the evacuation was a sensible precaution because they didn’t know the extent of the problem.”

    Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure ya did, Pinnochio:

    “The worst case scenario is that more people died from the evacuation than would have died from radiation poisoning had they not moved at all.” (SOURCE: http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/03/27/bp-refinery-leaks-oil-into-lake-michigan/#comment-311431)

    This report from the BBC sez;

    “The clean-up of the exclusion zone around the crippled plant was initially due to be completed by next March.

    More than 90,000 people remain unable to return home.

    Fukushima has been hit by a series of toxic water leaks in recent months. The latest contamination was reported on Sunday after unexpectedly heavy rain.

    Water with high levels of the toxic isotope Strontium-90 overflowed containment barriers around water tanks, operator Tepco said.” (SOURCE: “http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-24606357)

    90,000 PEOPLE no can go home, too hot and shiny their houses be–until at least 2017. But you continue to insist that the evacuation of those people caused more deaths than would have occurred if they had stayed in those areas.

    I really think that you have issues that require being chastised by a dominatrix or something. I just don’t know anyone else that is such a pathological (and horribly incompetent) liar.

  97. 97
    colnago80

    Re democommie @ #68

    Here’s a link to the article by Danial Holz, who is an astrophysicist and Carroll’s collaborator on his blog. He definitely claims that it was the tsunami that did in the Fukushima reactors.

    http://goo.gl/ZvfgbO

  98. 98
    democommie

    @97:

    I totes believe you. I’m not saying that TEPCO didn’t say that’s what happened.

    I’m saying that TEPCO’s on record as being liars.

    The article you link to was written within a few days of the original event. Nobody knew what had actually happened at that point. Considering the level of radioactivity at the plant site and the damage that was done by the “Triple disaster” as the Japanese refer to it it may never be possible to figure out what happened. Taking TEPCO’s word for anything would prolly not be a wise move.

  99. 99
    democommie

    I see that the piece of shit who calls himself “Englightenment Liberal” has slunk off (as he always does) and is now sucking up to one Mauriletremblay up there on the Ted Cruz thread.

    Buh-bye, fuckface.

  100. 100
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    No, I’m still here. I just see nothing worth replying to from you democommie.

  101. 101
    democommie

    Sure you are.

    Hey, how’s that Fuckedupshima clean-up coming along?

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